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Violence Against Women with Disabilities - Interventions

Best Practices in Abuse Prevention and Intervention

The development of resources and improvement of services for victims of abuse are key aspects of abuse intervention for women with disabilities (Nosek, Howland, & Young, 1997; Swedlund & Nosek, 2000). The National Domestic Violence Hotline keeps a database of battered women's programs throughout the country, with indications of their architectural accessibility and the availability of interpreter services. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued a manual that gives specific guidelines for battered women's programs on implementing accessibility modifications according to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and increasing sensitivity and responsiveness among program staff to the needs of abused women with disabilities (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1996).

Little is known about the ability of battered women's programs to meet the needs of a woman with disabilities who is living in an abusive environment. Considering the multitude of barriers reported by women with disabilities who seek services from battered women's programs, we examined this question in detail. From a mail-out to 2,703 programs nationwide that deliver abuse-related services; only 494 completed surveys were returned. The responding programs reported a wide range of percentages for the portion of women they served who had various types of disabilities. The most commonly reported service provided to women with disabilities was accessible shelter or referral to an accessible safe house or hotel room. Only 164 said they would offer a woman with a disability their wheelchair accessible emergency shelter, 23 said they would tell her they would call back when space becomes available, and 122 said they would suggest that she stay with a friend or relative. These findings suggest that only a very small proportion of women with disabilities who are being abused, particularly those with physical or sensory disabilities, receive services from battered women's programs.

Excerpt from Nosek, M.A., Hughes, R.B., Taylor, H.B., Howland, C.A. (2004) Violence against women with disabilities: The role of physicians in filling the treatment gap. In: S.L. Welner and F. Haseltine (Eds.) Welner's Guide to Care of Women with Disabilities.(pp. 333-345) Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

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